Scotland sets out plan to double onshore wind power by 2030

The Scottish government has stressed that it will ‘repower’ existing wind farms as it seeks to double its onshore wind capacity by 2030, but accepts that new developments will be needed.

The proposals, first outlined in a co-operation agreement between the Scottish National Party and the Scottish Green Party last month, are set out in the Scottish government’s draft Onshore Wind Policy Statement, published last week.

The draft document, which was published in the run-up to COP26, is out for consultation until next January.

Scotland currently has 8.4GW of installed onshore wind capacity. The proposals would see an additional 8-12GW installed by 2030.

The Scottish government says it will increase capacity through repowering existing onshore wind farms, which are coming to the end of their operational life.

Over the next decade, the Scottish government expects up to 2.5GW of currently operational wind farm developments to reach the end of their consented life.

It says it “strongly supports repowering in principle”, which to date has included installing new or upgraded components and technology to lengthen the operational life of a wind farm, while the layout and general scale of turbines remain unchanged. 

According to the consultation document, other repowering options include dismantling existing turbines and installing new ones, “potentially larger in scale, while re-using existing infrastructure such as access roads and connections to local electricity networks”. 

However, the Scottish government acknowledges that it will not be able to rely on repowering alone to meet the volume of onshore wind capacity required to “support the growing demands on its electricity system”.

Holyrood anticipates that an expansion of the onshore wind sector will provide a huge boost to jobs and the economy. 

It points to a recent Renewables UK Onshore Wind Prospectus, which suggests that approximately 17,000 jobs and the equivalent of £27.8bn in gross value added could be achieved through the deployment of an additional 12GW of onshore wind capacity by 2030.

Speaking on a visit to Kype Muir Wind Farm in Strathaven, net zero and energy secretary Michael Matheson, said: “We need bold action to tackle the climate emergency. Onshore wind is one of the most cost-effective forms of large-scale electricity generation and is vital to Scotland's future energy mix as we transition to a net-zero economy.”